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Friday, March 15, 2019

Don’t be scared; they’re only homeless young people — they don’t bite

     At the Crib, the Night Ministry’s youth shelter in the basement of the LakeView Lutheran Church on West Addison, there is a 9 p.m. ritual that can break the hardest heart.
     There is room for only 21 foam mattresses on the floor of the single-room shelter. So whenever more than 21 young people — mostly members of the LGBTQ community — are seeking refuge from the streets, they draw lots. The losers must leave. There are tears, embraces, couples sometimes split, and it is not unknown for one homeless youth to give his place to someone who needs it more. I’ve seen it happen.
     So when I first heard that the Night Ministry plans to move the Crib to a sprawling industrial building at 1735 N. Ashland, I assumed the idea is to accommodate more kids.
     They won’t. They’ll still house 21, to preserve a homey environment. The Crib will, however, introduce a new level of luxury.
     “There will actually be beds and not mattresses on the floor,” said the Night Ministry’s Burke Patten, the benefit of having several dedicated rooms. “People won’t be sleeping and recreating in the same space.
     Maybe. The new location is leased, but its use as a shelter needs government approval; the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals will hear the case on Friday.

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  1. I doubt these homeless young men are a problem.
    However, for reasons I don't understand, they attract a much older & violent type who sees them as prey.
    Those are the problem.

  2. After hearing about the Night Ministry here at the EGD blog, it has become one of my high-priority charities. They do great, essential work for this city. I subscribe now to the Amazon Smile program, where a few pennies of any purchase I make there goes to the charity of my choice, in this case, the Night Ministry. Worth checking out IMHO.

  3. The headline's first word, Community, says it all. We are a community and should take better care of the weakest or the different among us, rather than fearing and ostracizing them. Kudos to Night Ministry and Lake View Lutheran. All Christian denominations should join in similar ministries instead of seeking ancient, obscure biblical references to justify their prejudices.

  4. While I was self-employed (i.e., between jobs), I volunteered at the homeless shelter in my town. Those people were mostly adults, from their twenties to their sixties. But I remember our youngest guest; if he was out of his teens, it wasn't by much. Specifically, I remember being indignant that his parents couldn't at least give him a place to sleep. But the staff social worker told me that his mother apparently had mental issues.

    Looking back, I see that I was a victim of suburban disease--the assumption that those people, who behave that way, weren't to be found here. Parents reject their children all over the Chicago area, all over the world, and for the same lousy/tragic reasons: mental illness or incapacity, selfishness, hysterical reaction to their sexuality, etc. It's up to us as fellow human beings to take up the slack in whatever way we can.

    1. Many years ago -- probably in the early 1930s -- my grandmother ran what was called a family homeless shelter in Racine Wisconsin. A document that has come down to me details her caseload, which included impecunious widows with small children, women escaping abusive, usually drunkard, husbands, and a number of teens rejected by their families who were termed "incorrigibles."

      I often wondered about The Night Ministry, glimpsing their headquarters in Ravenswood out of my train window. But since Neil started banging the drum for it have begun making donations. Worthy cause.


  5. The photo seems to wordlessly convey the loneliness and alienation of a typical Chicago street.



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